Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ken Rosenthal heard a dumb rumor and wrote a column about it

So Ken Rosenthal apparently heard ("from scouting circles") that the Astros - from Houston on down to Quad Cities - were told not to swing at any 3-2 pitch.

Jeff Luhnow discounted it (though he had heard it, too - apparently scouts are like 13-year old girls):

“There is a philosophy that is probably a little more lenient toward taking on that 3-2 count. But no way are we mandating that people take on 3-2 counts. That’s ridiculous. That would be destroying value. We’re smarter than that.”

(Update: Danny Knobler, not to be out-dumbed, sort of stands by the rumor:
They have suggested to their hitters that they should be more selective with a full count, and according to sources they have also suggested to their minor-league managers that if the hitters don't do it on their own, it could be made mandatory at some point.)

But Rosenthal takes advantage of the split-second it took to answer that question to take his monthly gander at the Astros' organization.

About the tandem starting pitching idea, they're maximizing innings for their top priority starting pitchers. Luhnow:

“By forcing a tandem system, you’re basically saying, ‘These eight guys are the priority guys, plus one closer.’ To a certain extent, you’ve got a little more top-down control over how innings in the minor leagues get allocated. You know that those eight guys plus the closer are going to get the innings that they need.”

Alright, let's see how the innings have been allocated at OKC so far. Five pitchers have made at least three starts: Jordan Lyles (6 games, 5 games started, 23.2IP); Jarred Cosart, who will make his 5th start of the season tonight (5G/4GS, 22IP); Brett Oberholtzer (4G/4GS, 17.1IP); Rudy Owens (4G/3GS, 17IP); and Ross Seaton (4G/3GS, 14IP).

Now, of those: Owens is out for the season, Oberholtzer and Seaton have ERAs of 7.79 and 11.57, respectively. Lyles has a 5.52 ERA/1.52 WHIP. Wes Musick (6G/1GS, 2.87 ERA) and Jose Valdez (10G/0GS, 1.42 ERA) have pitched well, mainly in relief.

But Luhnow & Co. aren't just looking at ERA/WHIP. You can click the link to read more, and you should, but Luhnow is looking for effectiveness, quality of secondary stuff, and other things "you might not pick up just from reading a box score."

Grades per start are assigned, and jeebus, it would be awesome to know what grades each pitcher gets on a nightly basis. That's not going to happen, either.

Rosenthal closes with the deeply ominous:
It’s different. It’s unusual. But like most of Luhnow’s ideas, it’s rooted in a certain logic.

 (Wait, does this mean Rosenthal likes the Astros now?)